The meeting of the SCO Heads of Government on 1 December 2017 was "a major chord" in Russia's successful and fruitful chairmanship in the SCO Heads of Government Council during 2016 and 2017.
The historical significance of the Heads of Government Council meeting in Russia's southern capital was determined, among other things, by its new format of the SCO Eurasian Eight. Heads of Indian and Pakistani delegations took part in the summit as full-fledged members of the organisation for the first time. During the constructive exchange of opinions, results were summed up of the past year's work in the economic and humanitarian area, which was reflected in the joint Communiqué.
SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov took part in the 16th Meeting of the SCO Heads of Government Council.
Speaking at the meeting, the Secretary-General specially emphasised that "the historic decision of the Astana Summit to expand the Organisation opened up new opportunities for development and increasing its potential. With the admission of India and Pakistan as full members the SCO engine got a new boost."
An in-depth, involved and substantial exchange of opinions was held during the SCO Heads of Government Council meeting. The proposals and initiatives voiced by the Heads of Government will pave the way towards developing and strengthening trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation.
The Heads of Government were presented a detailed report of the SCO Secretariat on the implementation of the Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation Programme in the past year. "The general trend can be seen on the whole as a consistent establishment of an efficient system of regional trade and economic cooperation. To that end, about 30 large-scale events were held on economic and humanitarian issues during the reported period," the SCO Secretary-General underscored.
Mr Alimov also stressed that "respected international economic platforms in St Petersburg, Astana, Vladivostok, Xi'an and Urumqi were used to further develop business contacts in the SCO space. The first ever SCO pavilion at the EXPO 2017 in Astana was visited by 200,000 people. All that has become an important contribution to broadening regional economic and trade ties and promoting humanitarian and cultural foundations of international cooperation."
During Russia's chairmanship in the SCO Heads of Government Council, the intergovernmental Agreement on International Road Transport Facilitation came into force. The Agreement opens new opportunities not only for the transportation component of cooperation but also for the development of a new quality of regional infrastructure, mobile logistics centres and transport hubs. In the context of one of its steps in practical implementation of the Agreement on International Road Transport Facilitation, which came into effect in January 2017, the SCO Secretary-General proposed holding a motor rally along the longest Eurasian transport corridor from Lianyungang in China to St Petersburg in Russia via Kazakhstan.
Within the framework of Russia's chairmanship in the SCO Heads of Government Council, active work was underway on enhancing cooperation between the SCO and the UN, including on the economy track. A high-level large-scale joint event was SCO and ESCAP meeting on regional transport connectivity, which was attended by top representatives of the Asia-Pacific region in Bangkok on 23 November. In this connection Mr Alimov stressed that "SCO and ESCAP have launched a new cooperation stage between the SCO and the UN Commission." The event was marked by a clear growing interest of the Asia-Pacific countries in developing cooperation with the SCO.
According to Mr Alimov, the international SCO Marathon, which is gaining popularity, has become a new cultural and sports venue for SCO activities. During the Russian chairmanship, two stages of the Marathon were held — in Kunming and in Astana, with over 22,000 participants.
The concluding document of the Heads of Government meeting was a joint Communiqué, which incorporated the agreed approaches of the member-states to current issues in the world economy, highlighted priorities for furthering trade, economic and humanitarian interaction in the SCO framework, and assessed the results of the work conducted during the period reviewed.
In conclusion, SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov stated that "the decisions taken at the Council's meeting create favourable conditions for filling the mainstream areas of trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation with real substance."
In accordance with the SCO Charter, the Heads of Government Council chairmanship goes to the Republic of Tajikistan for the upcoming period. The next meeting of the SCO Heads of Government Council is scheduled to be held in autumn 2018 in Dushanbe.
The Heads of Government Council is one of the policy-making bodies of the SCO which adopts the Organisation's budget and addresses major issued related, in particular, to economic cooperation within the SCO.